John 1:29-42, 19 January 2020
the Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
Rush United Methodist Church
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”
The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
John’s witness is powerful.
His power comes from his contacts,
When John speaks
John had been a phenom;
preaching in the wilderness,
educating his followers to
watch and wait for the Messiah yet to be revealed,
and baptizing those who repent of their sins.
Thousands were drawn down from Jerusalem to the Jordan River
outside of Jericho
in the wilderness
and listen to his testimony.
Of the thousands drawn by John,
hundreds stayed and become his disciples.
These followers will become key
in the hand-off from John to Jesus.
When one became a disciple of a Rabbi back in the day,
they agreed to become yoked to him,
literally, yoked by a symbolic stole given out by the Rabbi.
To be yoked meant that the disciple was committed
to learn everything possible from that master,
to become exactly like him.
To be yoked meant they had to be literate.
Only the smartest of the smart were able to read and write.
Values and beliefs were taught by reading, writing, question and answers.
It takes years of apprenticeship to become a Rabbi.
The goal is to learn how to interpret Holy scripture
exactly like your master.
The student was required to share the same
values, beliefs, and world view as the Rabbi they followed.
This is, indeed, the nature of rabbinical education.
Education began with rote memorization and transcribing sacred texts.
The yoked student would be asked questions by the Rabbi.
The ensuing discussion would
Report what the student learned and
Testify what he had experienced.
The disciple becomes a Rabbi in their own right,
when, after years of learning and experience,
their life becomes a mirror image of their master.
Disciples are known,
find their identity,
by their master.
Let us ask ourselves …
Am I known as a disciple of Jesus?
Have I learned everything I can about him?
Have I spoken and conducted myself
to the best of my ability
as a mirror image of Jesus Christ?
John is teaching his rabbinical students today
and in walks Jesus.
John proclaims Jesus is his greater successor.
He witnessed about the Holy Spirit at Jesus’ baptism
and testified to hearing the voice of God.
John concludes with his informed, professional opinion:
Jesus is the Messiah,
The Son of God.
1. The first step in a life of Christ centered discipleship
is responding to proclamation and witness.
This is Jesus,
the Son of God.
This is where it gets dicey.
To follow Christ means we take off the yoke
we’ve previously been wearing.
We must walk away
from the one who has given us our values,
Just as John’s disciples
would have to leave John to follow Jesus,
so, too, must today’s Christ followers
walk away from everything that has given meaning in the past.
John proclaims “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
The sin of which John references
is not only transgression of Law.
It is the ignorance of God’s grace, redemption, and salvation
made manifest through Jesus Christ.
When that sin is removed,
there is only light;
the light of living in the presence of the new Rabbi,
the Son of God.
Today, taking off the yoke of John,
Removing the yoke of past masters,
might be like
leaving behind uncertainty, doubt, or unbelief.
Taking off the yoke that binds one to the past
might be like giving up
a gospel of prosperity and wealth,
a belief that democracy, the free market, and the world’s greatest military
just might save the world.
Taking off the yoke that binds one to the past
Might be like giving up the fist, knife, or gun,
giving up the drink, the high, the deal, or the dice.
Removing the yoke of the past
Completely breaks us down,
turns us around, and
sets us on a new direction.
“Come to me, all who are heavy laden,” Jesus says,
“and I will give you rest”
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
This begs us to question …
Are you ready to remove your former yoke and allegiances and
Accept the yoke of Jesus Christ?
2. The second step in a life of Christ centered discipleship
Begins as soon as we accept the yoke of Jesus.
We become part of community,
Complete with history, traditions, and Holy Ghost experiences.
Called “Ecclesia” in the Greek,
Known as “Church” in English,
Is a community that builds healthy, wholesome relationships;
Modeling the values and beliefs of the Master.
Accepting the yoke of Jesus
Makes us a part of the living, breathing,
Body of Christ.
Simon and Andrew
take off their John yoke
and put on the yoke of Jesus.
Ten others would soon join them.
First thing Simon and Andrew did was follow where Jesus was headed.
To become like the master,
one must mimic the master’s behavior.
One must follow where the master leads.
The Rabbi’s question,
“What are you looking for?”
certainly works on many levels.
They ask Jesus where he is staying.
“Come and see,” Jesus responds,
“And they remained with him.”
They abide in Jesus.
Abide; menō in the Greek.
They abide with him;
Take up residence,
Make their home with the master Rabbi.
The spiritual journey towards Jesus
Is both individual and communal.
We make our individual way to Jesus the Christ,
By accepting his yoke,
Learning everything he had to teach,
And employing his values in our personal lives.
We also progress in our spiritual journey towards Jesus
When we join with other yoked disciples
To becoming the living, breathing Body of Christ,
Empowered by the Holy Spirit,
At work in the world.
We gather to worship,
But we depart to serve.
Worship without service becomes dull.
Service without worship is absent of meaning.
Truly thriving communities of disciples yoked to Jesus
Worship with excellence and
Serve with love in his name.
3. This begs us to question …
When it comes to worship, is this the best we can do?
Can we do better?
When it comes to service, is everyone on board and fully engaged?
Are we loving our neighbor and making certain their needs are being met?
“Come and see” is an invitation to abide with Jesus.
Answering the invitation is humble acknowledgement
That you and I haven’t seen it all.
We haven’t done it all.
God has more in store for us.
There is more to learn.
There is more to do.
We don’t have to travel too far from our little cocooned life
To discover the deep, pervasive needs of the world,
Where we are called to serve,
Individually and corporately as the Body of Christ,
Doing his work in his name.
There are injustices to be righted.
There are wells to be drilled.
There are mouths to feed.
Clothing needs sorted and provided to those who need to be clothed.
There are orphans to be loved and cared for.
There are refugees and aliens to be welcomed.
There are houses to be built.
There are jobs to be made.
For those of us yoked by Christ
“Come and see” must always be followed with
“Time to roll up the sleeves and get to work.”
let our hearts be warmed.
John’s testimony and witness
Began the transfer of discipleship from John to Jesus and
Led to Peter and Andrew answering the call.
Upon Peter, the Rock, did God build his Church.
Indeed, God had greater plans for Peter.
God has greater plans for you and me, too.
“Come and see” what God has in store.
May we be so moved
That when our worship is ended
We may depart to serve the world
In the name of Jesus.